Government acts to break the electric car charging monopoly at motorway services

    The government in the UK is to act to break the monopoly on electric car charging at motorway services. It will use legislation to ensure the charge points are reliable and can be accessed by anyone with a contactless card. Currently, just one company has the contract to provide charging provision along the motorway network.

    The move is aimed at updating the existing infrastructure and optimising reliability and the predictability of longer journeys for electric vehicle drivers. Rachel Maclean, transport minister, has said that the new chargers would arrive before 2023, with at least six at each service area on motorways and legal powers used to ensure they were reliable and accessible.

    Rachel Maclean, transport minister, said: “We do believe it will take government investment to ‘charge up’ this market. We’ve got nearly £1 billion to upgrade those connections at motorway service stations. What we are going to have at least six high-power chargers in every motorway service area by 2023.”

    The plan is to have chargers that are 150kW or above for fast charging to allow electric car drivers to top up in the time it takes to have a coffee. The chargers would available to anyone with a contactless payment card and would be in addition to Tesla units that are already installed at most service stations. Larger sites will have up to 12 new points providing speeds of up to 350kW.

    Service level agreements would ensure that the points were working for at least 99 percent of the time. Drivers would also have access to 24/7 customer care and there will be clear pricing information available. The expansion would not stop at these charge points, with plans to have around 6,000 rapid charge points across A-roads and motorway service stations.

    It’s not just the rapid charging network that will see investment. The government has doubled the funding available to local councils to improve charging infrastructure. The government is also advising people in areas with no charging points to actively contact their local council because there is money available for this.

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    Rod Dennis, RAC spokesman, said: “This is great news as charging electric cars at motorway service areas needs to be fast, reliable and easy to pay for, so drivers can make longer journeys with the minimum of fuss.

    “Nothing is more frustrating to an electric car driver than the sight of an out-of-order charge point, so the fact that there will be a commitment to having chargers ‘in service’ will make a big difference. The promise of clear pricing is also important as drivers are used to knowing what they’d be paying before filling up, thanks to petrol price ‘totems’ on forecourts.”

    This is good news for the ever-growing number of electric car and vehicle drivers. It should also help to reduce range anxiety that puts some people off switching to zero-emissions driving. Hopefully, this will also help to speed up the adoption of driving electric.

    Ian Osborne
    Ian Osborne
    Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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